The third and final installment of our 2013 Ernie Ball Save Your Strings Competition was the search for one great artist in our country category to win a year’s supply of strings and accessories. We’ve previously introduced you to our pop winner, Biscuits & Gravy, and our rock winner, The Jellybricks. They will now be joined in consideration for the grand prize “ an endorsement deal with Ernie Ball and a Music Man guitar for each player in the band “ by our country winner, Gin House.
Gin House has a winner with their great country porch stomper Roots, a perfect title for this band, whose other songs reveal a passion for all kinds of Americana beyond country “ blues, folk, and even classic pop. The main driver behind Gin House is Brandon Clark, who sings with a voice like tarnished gold “ built for radio, but with a deep character, and sounded with conviction. Check out the appropriately slow-burning stunner The Fire Is Alive for evidence. Clark founded the band in 2011 with Paul Lynch, and the following year released their self-titled 5-song EP, which features Roots. In support of the release, Clark hit the road with Austin Renfroe, hitting colleges from the Northeast to the upper Midwest. Sad to say we missed them last time around, but we won’t that mistake again.
All of the songs from the EP are currently posted on their OurStage page “ highly recommended listening. Stay tuned for the selection of the Ernie Ball Save Your Strings Grand Prize winner.
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Biscuits & Gravy Win The Pop Edition Of Ernie Ball’s Save Your Strings Competition
The Jellybricks Win A Year Of Free Strings From Ernie Ball
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It’s all in the hands of the judges now. After almost five months of competition, spanning eight different genres and three different rounds, the Top 20 artists in the Intel Superstars competition are now being evaluated by our judging panel. One winner will take home $10,000.
The #1 ranked artists from each of the genre channels have already been named prize winners, and will each receive a pretty great package that includes guitars from Gibson, computers from Intel, microphones from Blue Microphones, amps from Orange Amplification, and more from Creative Labs, HDMX, Sonos, and V-MODA. They are:
Rock: Pullman Standard (Hollywood, CA)
Pop: Kristen Hope Justice (Buford, GA)
Latin: Gregory Telfort (Freeport, NY)
R&B: DeShaude (Toluca Lake, CA)
Country: Stanford Joel (Charleston, South Carolina)
Singer-Songwriter: Addambongg (New York, NY)
Hip-Hop & Rap: KooL CrAzE (Fredericksburg, VA)
Electronic: E Live (Berkeley, CA)
These artists, along with the rest of the Top 20 from their channels, were all entered into Round 3, where the overall Top 20 from across the entire competition was determined. In just a few days, we expect to have a final determination from the judges, including Austin Renfroe (winner, 2011 Intel Superstar), Jason Ienner (Manager, Hot Chelle Rae and Haerts), Bruce Tyler (Industry Executive, former EVP at Sony), Tommy Page (Pandora VP of Artist and Brand Partnerships), Brian Nolan (Senior Director, Creative Agency – Columbia Records), Justin Lassen (Producer, Nihil Studios), Mike Rivet (Sr. Marketing Manager at Intel), and myself, Scott Janovitz (Director of Community at OurStage.com).
There are so many great entries in this competition, it’s going to be a tough selection. We hope everyone has a chance to listen and discover some new music. Stay tuned for the big winner.
This is it folks, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Thousands of potential superstars were narrowed down to just one lucky winner for the $10,000 “Superstars” Grand Prize. The artist? Drum roll, please. . .it’s none other than rising Nashville songwriter, Austin Renfroe. Renfroe landed the number two spot in the Intel® Superstars Competition Singer-Songwriter Channel with his track Taking Me Under, qualifying him for the finals round where he finished first out of 120 potential superstars potential. Now he’s $10,000 richer, which means he’s on the fast track to baller status (as if he wasn’t already, right?). Join us on congratulating Renfroe on his big win, and be on the lookout for our follow-up with him later this month.
Over the course of writing this column, I’ve come across some pretty sensational vocalists, and I had the chance to pick many of their brains about the most important aspects of being a professional singer. I’ve also observed many of the biggest voices in music, and the way that their voices have developed and changed over time. Getting up and singing for an audience, whether you’re a professional singer or just someone who loves to sing, is not easy. So, here is a list of some of the advice I’ve encountered while writing Vocal Points that may help the aspiring singers out there:
- Everyone can sing. This is probably the most important piece of advice I’ve encountered because so often we feel that only certain people are blessed with a beautiful voice. As vocal therapist Mark Baxter said in his OurStage interview, “Singing came before speech. Humans are instinctively wired to send and receive melodic passages of emotional statements.” So if you love to sing, don’t let anyone else stand in your way.
- Nobody is perfect. Its important to remember that our favorite vocalists got to be so good because of hard work and practice. As Kevin Devine explained to me, “I think I’ve embraced my limitations as a singer and tried to re-frame them as strengths. “
For our last installment of Vs, we’re doing something a little different. Instead of comparing an OurStage artist to an artist in the mainstream, we’ll be taking a look at OurStage’s Best Of The Best Charts. Specifically, we’re taking a look at the Number 1 artist in four categories, Pop, Rock, Urban and Country, and examining what makes them great along with what makes them standout from their peers on OurStage.
Pop – Austin Renfroe
Austin Renfroe seems to have become a fan favorite here at OurStage. Between winning competitions left and right, he was also a finalist in The OurStage Panel Finale. While most modern pop music is becoming more electronic and Autotuned, Renfroe stands out by making music that is natural and organic sounding yet incredibly catchy. The multitalented singer-songwriter plays both the guitar and piano, but his biggest strength is his voice. His distinctive soulful style also possesses an incredible range”Renfroe often switches between a low register and a silky sweet falsetto in the same song. His song “Taking Me Under” showcases all of his vocal skills, using falsetto and vocal embellishments to create a killer hook in the chorus. Renfroe is also a gifted songwriter, blending elements of pop, folk, soul and rock into his songs. Between “Honesty,” a more upbeat pop/rock track, and “Can’t Bring Us Down,” a stripped down acoustic song, it’s clear that he has the versatility and talent to stick around for awhile.
Rock – Chasing Eden
Chasing Eden have been making waves for awhile, having been on OurStage’s Best Of The Best Chart for over seventy-five weeks and racking up a whopping fifteen Top 10s and ten Top 40s. This hard rock band forms the basis of their sound around heavy, chugging guitar riffs. However, unlike most other bands in their genre, Chasing Eden utilize a female lead singer. Andrea Brink’s voice is smooth and sweet, which contrasts with the rest of the band’s heavy riffing. However, if you listen to songs like “All I’m Asking” or “Remember Me,” you can hear that this contrast actually works really well, and it is one of the main reasons that Chasing Eden have remained a mainstay at the top of our charts.
Urban – Greg Banks
We covered Greg Banks, one of the many talented young artists who are revitalizing R&B, on Vs. before. Banks is not only a supremely talented singer, but also a gifted songwriter who writes all of his own music. Banks creates his unique sound by using real instruments in his compositions to create a warm sound in a genre that, ironically, can sometimes lack soul. His song “Selfish” shows off his songwriting skills as well as his vocal prowess. This song begins with a riff that is finger picked on an acoustic guitar, which becomes the focal point of the song. Other instruments like violin and keyboard are added to the mix to flesh out the song. Banks’ voice is also impressive here, using his range to hit high notes that most other singers wouldn’t be able to hit.
Country – Allen Layman
Allen Layman is a journeyman, the perfect archetype for country music. He’s played in various bands in all parts of the country, which gives him plenty of lyrical inspiration. Layman plays a more traditional brand of country, eschewing the pop-infused sound of most modern country. Layman sings in a smooth, deep baritone, recounting tales of heartbreak and homesickness. It’s the kind of voice that sounds like it’s been through years of hardship, spending late nights in smoke-filled bars. Songs like “Reason To Live” and “If I Can Make You Love Me” not only showcase Layman’s fantastic voice, but also his great twangy guitar skills.
But what do YOU think of these artists? Do you think another artist should be at the top of the charts? Let us know in the comments!
The road ahead is looking bright for Nashville singer-songwriter Austin Renfroe. He’s turning heads across the board with the attention of hundreds of thousands of online fans, critical acclaim, Sirius XM’s “Breaks The Band” title and a spot as a The OurStage Panel finalist. He also managed to grab the attention of our friends at Ernie Ball, which landed him the Ernie Ball Pop Grand Prize in October for his track “Honesty”. As a result, Renfroe got the hook up from Ernie Ball with a year’s supply of shiny new strings for his axe, so we just had to catch up with him to see how he likes ‘em. Check out the pics below!
Featuring performances by The Well Reds, Austin Renfroe, Britni Elise, and Matt Bailie. Special guest performances by Hot Chelle Rae! Get more info and learn how to be included in future seasons here.
We’re so close to the finale episode of The OurStage Panel we can almost hear it. Or that could just be the residual ear ringing from the ecstatic crowd at last week’s filming. Either way it’s almost here, and you’ll be able to watch performances from Hot Chelle Rae, Britni Elise, Austin Renfroe, Matt Bailie, and finally these guys: The Well Reds. If you recall, The Well Reads were the final act to be named a finalist by the panelists. We caught up with them prior to the filming to hear all about their hometown of Atlanta, performing at the New Music Seminar, and the dynamic of their live performance.
You can also vote The Well Reds as your Fan Favorite on Facebook, they’ll be up against the fan favorites from the three previous episodes, and the winner will walk away with $1,000. One fan who votes will also win a nifty pair of KOSS headphones. Make sure to follow @OurStage and @OurStagePanel for the latest updates on all things OurStage Panel. Be sure to watch the finale when it airs this Thursday!
Watch behind the scenes interviews with Matt Bailie, Britni Elise and Austin Renfroe here!
Austin Renfroe does something not every singer-songwriter can do”he can make the masses dance. Command an arena. Maybe even blow an amp. The Atlanta native’s songcraft brings together folk, soul, pop and rock, cranks the volume up and unleashes the hooks. Buckle up and blast off with Honesty, a kinetic, chunky rocker that belongs somewhere between Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw. Taking Me Under is technically a love song, but one that’s got some muscle. If it was up to me I’d never have to choose between the pleasure and the pain / Cause once you’re in you’re never out again, Renfroe sings over a big, piano-driven surge. Powerful stuff, but if you’re looking for a quieter expression of feelings, skip to Can’t Bring Us Down, a striped acoustic ballad that showcases the singer’s limber vocals. Just don’t fall too fast”once you’re into Renfroe, you’re never out again.
“Honesty” – Austin Renfroe
Last week we caught up with The OurStage Panel finalist Britni Elise, who was gearing up for the Finale with a strict work-out regimen. Britni will soon be going up against fellow finalists Austin Renfroe, The Well Reds and Matt Bailie to determine who will be named the Grand Prize Winner of The OurStage Panel.
This week we checked in with Austin, who was named a Fan Favorite in Episode 2, in Nashville via Skype. He dished on inspirations, his unique voice and even threw down the gauntlet with his response to Warner/Chappell VP Lee Dannay‘s comment that if he’s a charismatic performer, it could take him a lot further:
“Lee, I’m coming for ya, I’m ready to prove myself as a dynamic performer just for you!”
See more of what Austin has to say below!